Champion, Kramer against Kramer, Life is beautiful, My life without me. Films about fathers, mothers and children around death or desolation, whose main objective is to make the audience swell to tears. And yet, beyond its themes and structures, and sharing as subtexts the educational legacy that we leave to the next generation and the way we shelter them from sadness and hardship, they could not be more different titles in as for style. In Near you, the Italian living in England Uberto Pasolini has composed a story that, told in a few lines, terrifies: a father with a terminal illness who was abandoned by his partner starts a casting adoptive families for your four-year-old son before death. It sounds terrible and it is, but the film is by no means creeping in its methods and it is godly in character.
Pasolini – nothing to do with the family of the poet and filmmaker Pier Paolo, although the grace is that he is a nephew of Luchino Visconti – is a veteran producer although strange, because he is not too prolific (nine feature films in 30 years of career) , and a late and sporadic director, as he did not get behind the camera until 2008 and Near you It is only his third film. However, most of his credits are unquestionable, including that of producer in the United States of For firefighters (1995), excellent debut of the now renowned series director Alan Taylor, and in the United Kingdom of a social comedy as fundamental as Full Monty (1997), inspired by his own idea later developed by Simon Beaufoy from the script and Peter Cattaneo from the direction.
Here His professional and surely personal experience is evident. As he did in his second job as a director, the most remarkable It’s never too late (2014), Pasolini has composed a sentimental work articulated from a precise tempo, calm but never slow; of minimal but rigorous dialogues, and of a story always dominated by the characters and not so much by the theme.
In fact, Near you, Audience Award at the Seminci in Valladolid, shares with It’s never too late not only the type of staging, of a simple austerity, and the almost total absence of music – if anything, occasional unplugged electric guitar chords – but also the background treatment, although seen from another angle. If in his second film the protagonist was a gray London city council official, in charge of trying to find relatives or friends among the human beings who have died in the solitude of their home, in this third the social services that help the dying father appear as Collateral roles, although it is not difficult to see their own film in them, and perhaps also exciting.
What happens in Near you, Inspired by a true story, it belongs to the cliché of titles that make you cry. Yet the way it is recounted, without a single low blow, with hope dominating bitterness and the beauty of life over the harshness of death, is richly noble.
Direction: Uberto Pasolini.
Interpreters: James Norton, Daniel Lamont, Eileen O’Higgins, Chris Corrigan.
Gender: drama. United Kingdom, 2020.
Duration: 94 minutes.
Premiere: December 17.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.